50 Mendful Steps (Counting Omer)

We left Egypt, we are free, now what?

I invite you to count with us!

Daily inspirations will be shared for 50 days at Mendful Community on Facebook Please like page and follow us here

It’s Passover, we left Egypt, the narrow and constricting place called Mitzrayim in Hebrew. We are wandering in the wilderness of freedom looking at horizon hoping to catch a new, or a renewed glimpse of hope for our future to mend what is not well and whole yet. 
The archetypal Exodus journey story is a teaching story we relate to in different ways depending where we are in life. Once in a while we sense a desire to change or to reflect and with hope hope to feel free enough to change. It all begins with making time to reflect to gain new perspectives and insights.

Now that we are free , we have another changce to stop and ask about the meaning of our lives and the future.
It is human nature to desire to live a life that matters and which is also enjoyable and free of pain and hopelessness. This is the season to reflect, adjust and reorient life to move in the direction of our aspirations. 
At this season of spring and renewal we open life the spring blooms and curious as the new branches on the trees, to know what is ahead in our lives and how we could shape our future to live more fully and with more ease and joy.
Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, invites us to lift the veils that obscure our joy and potential and shed light into corners we have not visited in a while or never. The parting of the Sea of Reeds, a birth place of a people passing through the dry land open to them among the pillars of water threatening to crash down on them, is a birth metaphor. Every human life somehow have manages, endures and courageously makes it through to come to this world.
After the “opening” at the parting of the sea we tell at the Seder, we begin the Omer Counting (sefirat ha’Omer). A Mendful journey of 50 days to guide us on discovery and reflection until Shavuot. (June 9th in 2019) I hope you can make time for daily reflection for 50 days, make it count, reflect and take action to create the life you desire to bring more ease and contentment.  

I will guide us on the journey of counting through the mystical flow of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life for 7 weeks. I will share daily inspirations for 50 days at Mendful Community on Facebook Please like page and follow us here

What is Sefirat ha’Omer
It is the counting of the days during the period between Passover and Shavuot holiday. Literally it means to count sheaths; bundles of grain.  It is a time of self reflection with the aim to renew our awareness of abundance and bring more flow into our lives.

How would life be if we take the time really count for us? As we journey from Passover as free people, we walk on a 50 days bridge of daily practices to connect us to what we love. We engage in authentic reflection once a day as we count the days connecting to new and renewed mendful possibilities. We make room each day to connect with our heart’s desires, journey in the mystery of the unknown wilderness, in the desert as the Israelites.


Many your holiday and counting the Omer be enjoyable and meaningful, Rabbi Sigal

Retreats with Rabbi Sigal… June, September, December

Don’t Hesitate


Reflections on Exodus. After 10 plagues and much preparation to leave, Moses lead the people out of Egypt and across the Sea of Reeds. Only to arrive at a wide desert of not knowing. No plan, no resources, but only the faith in a mysterious unknown god.

Imagine standing at the edge of the Sea of Reeds, where you couldn’t turn around and couldn’t cross the water. Imagine the feeling of despair the Hebrew Slaves felt in Egypt to follow this known leader, Moses, to the edge of the land they knew. Standing by the water, trapped with no path, where it seemed their journey will abruptly end. Luckily the water parted!

If the Hebrew Slaves waited to be motivated to leave they would never leave Egypt. The comfort of their known miserable lives as slaves was “safe” and predicable. It sufficed. It would have been impossible to motivate them to change. Change is hard and we cannot sit and wait until we feel like it is “safe” enough or the conditions are good. Especially, we can’t wait to feel like we are motivated enough before we take action.

That is why we need a Moses to push us out of our stuck places. The story tells us that the people had to leave in a hurry in the middle of the night. Why hurry? Because hesitation is the enemy of change. If we have too much time to contemplate change the brain finds ways to justify not taking action in order to save us from feeling discomfort and pain. 

The Moses archetype to lead us on new journeys is within us. We can summon the Moses within and be determined to take action, one step at a time.

Consistent action while staying curious about the mystery of our future can lead to real change. We cannot wait to be motivated or have the right conditions. Journeying in the unknown desert is necessary. Tolerating discomfort; feeling out of control and hungry in unfamiliar terrains is inevitable. Tolerating uneasiness is a must while pushing forward to a Promised Land even if it’s a dream no-one seen. 

Exodus is a beautiful story about our journey in the mystery we call life. To inspire us to have the courage to take a chance on change, on adventure; to journey to new lands and create new community as Moses and the Israelites did. Happy Spring and sweet Passover.

Retreat with Rabbi Sigal June 9-11 at Kripalu Center

Mendful Living from Your Soul Lean Back into Ease and Contentment

Mendful Living is Soul-Centered Living

It takes courage to embrace the unknown and to find our way in new situations. Change can be scary and confusing. We must find “ground” first to calm down, so that the fear based part of the brain is not the only thing controlling our behavior. I call that part of the brain, the F brain; fear, fight, flight and freeze.
The Mendful Path mentors us to find our soul-center so we can stay settled in the calm and peace of our being, especially when we are feeling scared and confused. Mendful  practices teach us ways to bring more calm to the body-mind, fostering understanding of the underlying deep interconnection of all things. 

I am leading retreats at Kripalu in June, October and December to explore the relationships between mendful, soul, contentment, ease and happiness.
These holistic retreats provide a direct approach to living authentically and cultivating peace and well-being in all aspects of your daily life. I will explain puzzling concepts and guide healing contemplative practices that focus on reducing discontent and strengthening trust in your authentic experience. Practice transformative meditations, relaxation, and self-inquiry to point the way toward wonder, enjoyment, ease, and contentment.

I hope to see you there.
Blessings,  Rabbi Sigal

Contact us for details


Weddings   Bnai Mitzvah

Mentoring &  Meditation

Contact us when you are ready for individual mentoring. Sigal has room for a few new students

Fascism and the Book of Esther

It’s purim! A holiday of masquerading and fun. But before we dress up and celebrate can we reflect for a moment on a serious matter? 

The Book of Esther is a story about Ahasuerus, a pleasure seeking King asleep at the helm, and Haman, an “evil” Prime Minister who conspired to kill the Jews. Esther, a Jew, was crowned Queen for her extraordinary beauty and foiled Haman’s evil plan with her smarts.

In the story Esther saved the Jews with two moves:

1. She identified the threat with the help of her uncle Mordechai; Haman’s evil plan.

2. She devised a plan to stop it; to open the King’s eyes to Haman’s evil plan.

Esther had the courage to see the situation clearly and not deny or hide from the painful truth of what is coming. Even though her life at the palace was pleasant and she could have ignored and deny the threat by saying it was “fake news,” she didn’t. Instead, she took a huge risk by telling the King about it, confronted Haman and save the Jews. 

This is a unique story because antisemitism’s harmful effect was foiled before it devestated, and Haman, the Antisemitic leader was hung. In history usually much harm was caused before it stopped. This year it’s not hard to see this story as a mirror to our times with the growing antisemitism and fascism in the world. In history both are intimately interrelated.

I am writing here after reading Fascism: a warning by Madeline Albright who writes at length about examples of fascism in history and now. She tells about her own experience meeting dictators and she warns that fascism is dangerous because it doesn’t arrive overnight. She writes “it implements itself little by little plucking the chicken one feather at a time.” Change happens slowly and gradually and before we know it, it’s fully here and democracy is gone. 

In her opinion we may be overly trusting democratic governments to be able to withstand the pressures and avoid a change to fascism. In fact, there are many examples to show how changes happened insidiously in governments, and are happening now.

Because fascism grows with influence little by little it’s hard to detect it. It’s hard to fight against it. We also look with disbelief at the situation and want to trust and believe democracy will prevail. 

You may ask, as I do, what can we do? I don’t know exactly how or what we can do, but I know we must respond to mend the situation before it is too late. We cannot be paralyzed by disbelief and idly hope for the best while we do nothing. We all need to be like Esther. Open our eyes, stop denying the truth and combat the forces of antisemitism and fascism. Esther asked everyone to pray and fast, to stand with her, to give her support to have the power and be the unlikely leader to foil the threat. Esther, a pretty woman who has no authority or standing in the hierarchy of leadership except for being beloved to the king, led against Haman, a leader with power who’s plans to cause harm had to be stopped.

May we all be like Esther.

“If not you, who?  If not now, when?” 

Variation on Hillel quote by Rabbi Sigal

Blessings and prayers for a mendful world.

Happy Purim! Rabbi Sigal

Two opportunities to retreat with Rabbi Sigal Mendful Living Retreat at Kripalu Center in June and September.

Let’s talk about LOVE

More than ever before we talk about love in different ways. It seems there is more appreciation to other kinds of love which exceed romantic love. Maybe the change is because now, more than ever before, many people are single. Being single is a growing global trend, whether by choice or by circumstances, more people don’t marry and new ways of being in loving relationships are explored. It turns out, there are many ways to be in loving relationships.

Love is a humungous topic. It’s hard to put our arms around love, but we try, measuring love and defining it. For some love is a feeling, to others a commitment. To some it’s security, to others a vulnerability. To some a fulfilled desire, while for others a longing. 

What we want is to be in authentic relationships. We want to be ourselves and relate to others who are authentically themselves. When we are in loving relationships we want to be seen, heard, feel connected and belong. In authentic loving relationships, these four posts are important underpinnings, usually garbed with elaborate unconscious and conscious desires and needs. 

Alain de Botton who wrote Essays in Love defines love as charitable interpretation of others’ behavior. To love is to be willing to interpret someone’s not so appealing behavior with a more benevolence reason. Loving is accepting faults; being patient and charitable in our interpretation of unappealing behaviors. 

We are bound to disappoint and be disappointed, especially with people we love and whom love us. Love is not admiration alone, although we want it to be because it would be so much easier. But real life love must include compromise and tolerance of unpleasant feelings and behaviors. It calls us to be mature in loving and living with the recognition we need to tolerate ambivalence. The disparity between what we like and the things we really don’t like. We tend to spend a lot of time and energy rejecting and resisting the things we don’t want to include in the mix of love and relationships, but reality is what it is and we need to accept it. 

Staying in relationships requires skill. Love is not just a matter of feelings. It hurts when we are disappointed, but with mendful skills and sensibilities we can navigate it better. We must stay in the conversation with others and with the different triggers within us, and not run away from them and avoid them. It actually makes the things we try to avoid more resistant and painful.

In Mendful Path Living we cultivate a remembering we carry in our heart, namely, the intention to mend. The mendful mindset and the intention to mend are tucked in our heart and in our consciousness to help bring us back to love and mending.  How?

I have a regular daily practice of meditation and prayer to orient me ever so strongly to mending. More and more I see how it helps usher me back from the edge of discomfort and discontent to balance and calm. It’s especially helps me respond with more understanding and care in challenging moments. Remembering all humans experience disappointments, hurts, and challenges, we prepare and support ourselves to respond more calmly and productively in stressful situations. The question is not whether we will be challenged, because we surely will, but instead we prepare and plan how we will respond mendfully. How in the moment we don’t allow our habitual reactivity to get the best of us and create more suffering and harm. And, when things get away from us sometime we mend from there. We ask for forgiveness, forgive others and make amends. 

Mendful love is how we live. One conversation, one encounter, one small mend at a time. May your love flourish in many colors and textures within you and in all your relationships, whether you are partnered or not.

 Mendful Living from Your Heart
Retreats at Kripalu Center  in June and September  

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Resolve to Be Mendful in 2019

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We are the clay, and life, the potter’s hands.

Life changes and shapes us into what we are over our lifetime. Remember the times you softly surrendered into the hands of change like soft clay and allowed life to transform you? And do you also remember how at other times your vessel cracked or broke?

Leonard Cohen says: “There is a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.” The Japanese design concept called Kintsugi, repairing broken pottery with liquid metal, makes them more beautiful by highlighting the cracks and the place of mending. Rabbinic lore from 2000 years ago tells us the broken Tablets; Moses broke when he saw the people built a golden calf and worship it, when he came down from Mount Sinai the first time, are kept in the Ark of the Covenant along with the second Tablets engraved with the 10 commandments.

These are all beautiful inspirations to encourage us to embrace our brokenness, to stop hiding our humanity and to stop avoiding a fuller life. All brokenness, imperfections and pain are parts of our lives. Instead of living afraid to make mistakes, contemplate how you could live more mendfully this year. Instead of being afraid of breaking, although we have been broken before and survived, and are surely to break and hurt again. With it all, can we resolve to love ourselves, to embrace others, brokenness, scars and all?

I am writing this as we are entering a new year, 2019. I want to remind us not to begin a new year with a list of all the ways we are not good enough, broken, wrong and disappointing. You know what I’m talking about, the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, harshly aiming to fix all that is wrong and unacceptable in us.

But aren’t you doing the same each year and fail? You make a list and very quickly forget it and feel disappointed in yourself? Adding more bad feelings and shame and blame onto the pile of what’s wrong with you already. Turns out that instead of growing self love and being helpful, we grow self hatred and discontent in each passing year. Can we resolve to not use self deprecating and hating statements in an attempt to improve? How about resolving to include only resolutions that resonate as expression of the following: I love you and I care for you. We can try to apply changes, but also remember to not try so hard, guarding against causing more breaking instead of cultivating mending.

Please proceed with caution and be gently to avoid causing more harm within you and around you, even if it means not improving and stepping slowly into making big changes. Unless we all take the mendful path, choosing at each step to mend, no real healing and change will be possible.

Consider your motivations and set the right conditions. Use affirmations to bring you back to love and care and follow the words with healthy actions to mend body, heart, mind and spirit.

I wish us all a mendful 2019!

I am here to help you individually and in groups, virtually, online and in person.

I look forward to connecting with you in 2019.

Love and blessings, Rabbi Sigal

Mendful living is here for you. Please join us to mend our world and ourselves too.

Retreats June 9-11 and September 8-10

Mendful Living from Your Soul

The Light of Meditation Skills

Why do we make more time to do inner work in the cold and dark winter months? Why should we sit quietly and meditate and make time for our body-minds to simply “be”? 

During the winter season we are free of the many outdoors activities and can become more alive from the inside out and contemplate in stillness. Winter is the time for deep inner mendfulness and the best time for increasing our enlightenment by enjoying quiet, meditation, dreaming and imagining.

Let’s begin with an analogy. Shining a flashlight in a lit room doesn’t show as well as when we shine a light in a dark room. We can see better and discover new things when we shine a light into darkness. Darkness serves us well because it provides a good contrast to light, to the already seen world. The “dark” areas in our brains,  areas we only seldom visit and unknown areas altogether, also provide a good contrast and a rich ground for new discoveries and insights.

We celebrate light in the dark winter months because the darkness naturally calls for it. Light is a symbol of hope and life, at a time not much is growing in the cold fields. We celebrate fire, light and heat that warm our bodies and gladden our souls. 

Lighting Hanukkah candle for 8 days as a metaphor for our spiritual work.

We begin Hanukkah candle lighting with only one light and we grow the light each night by adding one more candle. At the beginning with one little light in the darkness we can see a lot. But soon, we become accustomed to the light and the thrill of “seeing anew” diminishes. We progressively light more candles each night because we need more light to see anew, to look deeper and farther. When we add lights, we create a change in the environment that enables us to perceive differently and with more clarity. 

This process of adding more light is a good metaphor for a meditation practice. We practice different methods of meditation to add more awareness, more seeing and more clarity. We learn to focus and as a result we increase the ability to see clearly. Like increasing the light, meditation skills grow more each day we practice, and our ability to concentrate, stay calm and steady grows. We become deeper seers. Becoming skillful in meditation requires patience and practice. Like lighting the candles for eight days of Hanukkah, with meditation the light of awareness grows slowly and mending ensues. 

I hope to meditate with you soon.

Light and blessings, Rabbi Sigal

Retreats at Kripalu

Gratitude to Remedy Entitled Attitude

It turns out, giving thanks and giving in general is good for you. It is good for your overall well-being—mentally, emotionally, and physically.

In Jewish tradition, the first thought we are guided to have upon waking is Modeh/dah Ani, which means I am grateful. It makes sense! The morning, before other thoughts and activities take over, is a powerful time to pause and thank. When we have regular time to say thank you and put our focus on what we appreciate, the many precious gifts of life, our thoughts are conditioned for more joy and fulfillment throughout the day.

In a society where personal entitlement is the norm, giving thanks is a necessary remedy.

Privilege and feeling entitled have a shadow side. They often cause personal suffering and interfere in relationships. It’s easy to find things to complain about. And, as we complain, we grow our sense of entitlement and, with it, disappointment grows within us, and causes unnecessary suffering. What I mean is that when we are disappointed, when we wish things were different for us, it is because we are sometime expecting something and feel deserving of that thing. (I am talking about the arrogant attitude of have the “right” to things that are not real necessities.) Our society has conditioned us to be entitled consumers: The customer is always right, while humility, patience, and considering others’ needs is not emphasized as much.

Giving time to thank, practicing gratitude, and developing a desire to benefit others can remedy our own suffering. Sharing from our abundance, giving, and cherishing are deep practices that lead to happiness and contentment. The opposite of the attitude of gratitude is entitled attitude. The entitled attitude is feeling the world owes you something, that you deserve to have all your expectations and desired fulfilled, or else you are miserable and disappointed. We give thanks to help ourselves and others with these entitled feelings, and gain perspective by focusing on what we have and less on what we don’t have.

A simple practice: Give yourself a moment now to name a few things you are thankful for. Include giving thanks in your daily routine. It’s best if it’s done at the same time daily. Notice how you feel when you remember the things that you are grateful for and the people that you appreciate.

Give yourself & others “me” time and “us” time to mend.
Mendful time is what many of us need most, especially in this hectic holidays season.

Give Gift Certificate for Personal Mendful Mentoring with Rabbi Sigal (contact us)

December 24-26, 2019  Wisdom of Kabbalah: A Retreat for Inner Peace at Kripalu
December 27-29, 2019 Mendful Path Retreat for Mending Heart and Soul at Kripalu

HAPPY THANKING and HAPPY GIVING!

Flow like Sweet Honey

 

It’s 5779!

Everything is waiting for you. Everything.

May the New Year FLOWWWWWW LIKE SWEET HONEY.
Pour it allover your life and soak in it to infuse everything. Everything, even the toughest and most challenging situations, sorrows and pains. Release it all into an ocean of honey; the troubles of the last year and the worries of the next, and let them melt away to be sweetened. Love and blessings, Rabbi Sigal

Yom Kippur Services

Polyvagal Theory: A Mendful Pointer to Wellbeing

Polyvagal theory and other neuroscience teach about important systems that regulate our responses. These new areas of study are important for us to understand because they point us to wellbeing. The theories explain patterns in our body-mind which heavily influence our lives; physiologically, psychologically, relationally and cognitively. 

I have seen the positive effect of sharing this information with my students. A beautiful shift can happen when we learn how the body responds to fear and stress. It helps because it can stop us from taking things personally or believing we are broken beyond repair. It  points us onto a kinder mendful path toward our hope and strength. This knowledge along with guided MENDtations and self inquiry exercises can help when we are dealing with negative arousal responses. Many of my student learn to relax more, rebuild resiliency and access more joy in a relatively short time.

What I teach in my retreats and personalized mentoring sessions  is now supported by the growing body of research and knowledge from neuroscience. We combine guided practices  and conversations to help create the conditions for the desired shifts back to health, contentment and ease. Centuries before seeds of neuroscience theories were even thought of, spiritual and religious practices such as meditation, chanting, visualization, prayer, tribal and physical rituals and cognitive methods, were used to calm, destress and point us in the direction of joy and contentment.  It is powerfully transformative when we delve into ancient practices and teachings now with the added knowledge of the new findings.

We discover how that they go together well because they address the same human needs; the freedom and easing of fear, stress, anxiety, discontent, agitation and unhappiness. I feel awe when I see these connections because they reflect to me humanity’s desire and ability to engage in a continues and expansive exploratory creative unfolding toward betterment of our conditions.

The retreats I teach are immersive and supportive experiences where we relax and let our full selves be. We learn how the conditioned unnecessary reactivity in the body-mind act as door ways to healing and positive change. It’s amazing what can be done in three days! Participants are able to delve deep into their inner spaces and experience beautiful connection to soul. It’s profound and moving to witness. 

Participants report that the group experience and the exercises are soul nourishing, insightful and mendful on many levels.

Hollie wrote: “Following Rabbi Sigal’s Mendful program at Kripalu I have experienced a shift, a softening, a turn towards wonder. So much of this heart opening was a result of ‘marinating’ in the loving community Sigal held for us.”

I love guiding and supporting people in retreats and with personalized Mendful Life Mentoring. You don’t have to do it alone. I am here to help. Together we journey the mendful path.

Retreats at Kripalu 

Mendtations